When Breanna Muise decided to take an hour a week for herself, she had no idea how much good it would do.
The Truro woman had gone through some experiences that left her emotionally scarred, and when a friend told her about Heal Your Heart Through Art, she decided to give it a try. She contacted Third Place Transition House to find out more about the program, which is designed to help women who’ve experienced trauma and abuse.
“I hadn’t painted anything before,” she said. “I draw stick people. My nine-year-old draws better than I do, but I saw this as an opportunity to take time for myself.”
She was very quiet the first time she took part in the program, but as the weeks went by she began to feel more comfortable and was able to express herself both through her voice and her art.
“The things I paint sometimes have meaning behind them, and sometimes they’re just a feeling,” she said.
“I find it comforting and safe when I take part in the program. You can talk if you want, and even if people don’t understand your situation, they listen. Some day you cry; some days you laugh. This was the first time let it all out comfortably with people who weren’t family or close friends.”
She enjoys seeing her paintings around her home, and talking to her children, who are nine and four, about them.
“Art is playing an important role, by helping her show her children the value of taking time for self,” said Lisa Cochrane, support counsellor at Third Place Transition House.
Jackie Waugh, who leads the program, said seeing the positive emotional changes in the women is what makes the program worthwhile for her.
“Sometimes paintings begin as one thing and become something completely different before they’re finished,” she said. “It’s not a paint night. People express their own thoughts and feelings. It’ doesn’t matter what it looks like, as long as women are expressing themselves.”
Heal Your Heart Through Art is able to continue, thanks to funding from Colchester County and 100 Women Who Care. It will run once a month during July and August, and more often in the fall. More information is available by calling Third Place Transition House at 902- 893-4844.